lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

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zaffy
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Joined: 17 Feb 2018, 21:07

lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by zaffy » 17 Feb 2018, 21:14

Tortoise woke early this year and too cold to go outside. I can keep him warm and fed but I am concerned about low light leves. I have just bought a D3 Mercury Vapour, 80W E27 Gen2, which provides UVB, UVA, visible light, and infrared energy. Is this what my tortoise needs to get him through the next couple of months?

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Nina
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:22

Re: lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by Nina » 17 Feb 2018, 21:51

Hi Zaffy and thanks for contacting us. Yes, it's much too cold for your tortoise to go outside, so you will need to keep him indoors until the temperature is suitable (if you are comfortable in a short-sleeved t-shirt outside then it's probably OK for your tortoise to go outside, but if temperatures drop very low at night then you will still have to bring him in).

The light you bought sounds perfect. Where are you keeping him indoors - does he have a tortoise table or some sort of enclosure? The light needs to be pointing directly down (not at an angle), and you want it at a height that will give a temperature of about 30C directly below it, and at tortoise shell height. There is a minimum height where you shouldn't have the lamp any lower, and so read the manufacturer's instructions for that distance. If you aren't getting it warm enough directly under the lamp then you can supplement that with an ordinary 60W or 80W household bulb, but the tortoise will also need to have space to get away from the hot spot, to an area that is about 20C. He won't need any heat at night indoors.

One thing you should know about UVB lamps, is that you mustn't look directly into them, as they can damage your eyesight, so if you get one of those metal lampholder shades, that will direct more of the UVB down towards the tortoise and away from your eyes.

If you'd like to send us a photo of your set-up, we could maybe suggest some tweaks, but you're certainly on the right track with getting that light and lets just hope that the warm weather comes soon! My tortoises are going to be waking up this week, and I'm just about to go out and get them a new UVB bulb).

Nina

zaffy
Posts: 4
Joined: 17 Feb 2018, 21:07

Re: lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by zaffy » 18 Feb 2018, 10:51

Hello Nina, thank you for your speedy response.
Tortoise is warm and has a good appetite. Tortoise lives in the bathroom which is the warmest place in the house. I get the impression he likes company (probably just my imagination), so he strolls about the house too.
When summer comes, in the day he will be in the garden.
My only worry is poor light levels for the next couple of months.
I read on a tortoise website that UVA is bad for tortoise. This bulb has UVA.
Could this artificial light, in the wrong hands, do more harm than good? So much contradiction out there.
I have paid £60 for the bulb and holder. If I put it too high, it will do no good. If I put it too low it could do damage.
A graph comes with the bulb, but I do not understand what it means I have attached the graph.
Thanks
Attachments
tortoise graph.jpg

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lin
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Joined: 16 Mar 2017, 11:27

Re: lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by lin » 18 Feb 2018, 12:56

Hi Zaffy. Nina has gon out for the day so I have stepped in. Hope you don't mind.

The UVA is fine and the mercury vapor bulb you have is also good. As its only 80W it should only be about 12" to 14" high I think but we will double check that and get back to you.
Would you be able to send in the graph so we can see the whole area please.
Lin

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Nina
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Re: lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by Nina » 18 Feb 2018, 19:09

Darn, I just wrote a nice long informative response and then hit the button and it disappeared! I'll try again.

OK, it would be very interesting to know what site said that UVA was bad for tortoises. UVA, UVB and UVC are produced naturally by the sun, so in the wild tortoises would be exposed to all of them. You might have read that lights that give out only UVA are not sufficient for a tortoise's needs -- that doesn't mean it is bad for them. UVB is particularly important because it reacts in a complex way with cells on the tortoise's skin to produce vitamin D3, which enables a tortoise to absorb and utilise the calcium in its diet, and deficiency of UVB causes calcium deficiency in tortoises.

I sympathise with your anxiety! There is so much misinformation on the internet -- and conflicting information -- that it's often frustrating and scary when all we want to do is to give them the best life!

Regarding your light, it should be fine, but do put it into a shade/holder so that it doesn't damage your eyes. As Lin said, for an 80W bulb, 12" - 14" should be fine, but do read the manufacturer's instructions to see if there is a minimum distance to hang it. New bulbs can be powerful, so you don't want it too close -- but you also don't want it too far away so that not enough of the UVB reaches the tortoise. I'm afraid I'm not good at interpreting those graphs (maybe Lin or Helen will help with that), but if you get the temperature under the lamp right, and don't hang it lower than the manufacturer says, then you should be fine.

It is really important to get the temperature right. If I remember correctly a tortoise needs a temperature of about 26C to properly digest its food, so for part of the day it should be able to bask in a temperature approaching 30C if possible (just hold a thermometer directly below the light at tortoise shell height for a couple of minutes to check), and the rest of the time a temperature of about 20C is fine.

Regarding the tortoise home in your bathroom -- that should be fine (lol as long as you don't trip over him if you have to use the loo in the middle of the night!). Wandering around the house can be allowed, but isn't ideal as tortoises can often nibble on things like bits of fluff that they might encounter on the floor, but if you're monitoring him I guess it's all right.

Here is a link to our article on overwintering. It's meant for people who for one reason or another have to keep their tortoises awake during the winter, but there might be some good information there for you.
http://www.thetortoisetable.org.uk/tort ... -tortoise/

I hope that helps, but do get back to us if you have any more questions or concerns.

Nina

zaffy
Posts: 4
Joined: 17 Feb 2018, 21:07

Re: lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by zaffy » 18 Feb 2018, 21:15

Thank you for replying. Sympathise with your loss of text. Done it so many times. Now, I usually do a right click and copy before pressing anything, so then it's on the clipboard if hard work disappears.

Looked for that UVA piece and visited so many websites yesterday, I can't track it down, but if I do I will let you know.

I am attaching a better copy of graph. It is a coloured one which is on the side of the box. Numbers are depicted on the bulb but what do they mean? Where the little creature is, is that the proper height?

Thanks
[attachment=0]tort coloured graph.jpg[/attachment]

zaffy
Posts: 4
Joined: 17 Feb 2018, 21:07

Re: lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by zaffy » 18 Feb 2018, 21:18

Not sure if attachment of graph was successful, so resending.
Attachments
tort coloured graph.jpg

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lin
Posts: 355
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Re: lighting for Greek spur-thighed tortoise

Post by lin » 18 Feb 2018, 23:39

Hi Zaffy.

I have to admit that although the graph is much clearer I still cant understand exactly what it is saying. However what you need to know is that the 12 to 14 inches height is fine and so long as the temps are correct under the lamp and the cooler end he will be great.

Lin

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